Guyana boasts more female contractors, business owners

…Govt committed to creating environment for women empowerment – Pres Ali

As Guyana conducts a Ministerial Forum on Gender Empowerment & Equality, President Dr Irfaan Ali revealed the strides being made locally when it comes to empowering women, including the increase in female contractors and business owners.
The three-day forum on gender empowerment and equality is being held by the Human Services and Social Security Ministry at the Marriott Hotel. President Ali, who was the keynote speaker at the opening day of the event, used the opportunity to apprise attendees of the Government’s efforts to promote gender empowerment.
He drew attention to Sispro Incorporated, the company led by four women that was able to raise millions of US dollars and successfully bid for two oil blocks. According to the Head of State, these women would never have invested had they not had confidence in the system.
“We must not take lightly that four women came together and tendered for an oil block and were allocated an oil block. First of all, there had to be confidence in the system, that allowed four women to believe that they could have come together and bid and had an equal opportunity.
“It does not come in an automatic manner. That’s the first point I want to make. There must be a level of confidence in the system, that allow these women to come together and believe they could achieve. So, there’s two words: confidence and belief,” President Ali said.
According to the President, it is important for a government to be honest with itself in examining its systems and ascertaining whether it generates confidence. President Ali further made reference to the growth in female contractors, who have been tapping into the infrastructural boom currently underway in the country.
“Similarly, over the last three years, we’ve seen more and more female contractors. Not only entering the system, but winning major contracts. Building competence. Yesterday I was at the Afriexim Bank exhibition. And there were four local contractors there exhibiting.”
“Out of the four, two were female-owned contracting businesses. One of them proudly told me they are employing close to 120 persons. And this is replicated. A high percentage of the small contractors in the communities, doing the small roads, are led by females,” President Ali said.
Goal five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which Guyana and the rest of the world are working to achieve, speaks to gender equality. The ministerial gender and equality forum will, among other things, feature regional delegates who will share experiences and strategies to tackle gender inequality.
Ministers from Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, St Lucia, and Belize are also in attendance, underscoring the regional commitment to this crucial agenda. Together, they are working towards robust national and regional models for the 2030 agenda.
In her remarks at the event, Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud was optimistic that Guyana was well on its way to achieving this goal, with the help of local and international funding. For instance, there is the Spotlight initiative which deals with family violence. Guyana has received assistance from the UN and European Union (EU) on the project.
“Guyana will be able to integrate all of the programmes that have been started under the Spotlight Initiative, under the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. That simply means that there will be budgetary allotments to everything that was started under Spotlight and I think that is significant, because it means we have continuity for everything started under this programme,” Dr Persaud said.
The Minister further provided details on other programmes being conducted by the Ministry, including the Women Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN) initiative. So far, more than 12,000 women have benefited from training under the programme, after which Government will provide them with support for businesses and even cash grants.
Another initiative is the COPSQUAD initiative, which graduated some 1000 Police Officers earlier this year. Police Officers received training to better equip them to handle cases of women who are victims of gender-based violence. The Minister committed that the Government would continue to fund these initiatives. (G3)